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Country News - 2004

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Food agency condemned for orchard grazing ban

Monday 12 July 2004

THE Government’s Food Standards Agency has attracted widespread criticism from farmers and landowners after it was revealed that the agency is planning to ban livestock from grazing in orchards.

The reaction was particular strong in southern Cumbria, where the Lythe Valley produces the largest and most famous damson crop in the UK.

It has been leaked that the FSA is planning to ban sheep from orchards for 12 months before a fruit crop is harvested, a new piece of red tape which would wipe out a centuries old tradition. The fear is that fruit could be contaminated from sheep droppings.

Jim Webster, CLA Cumbria president and farmer, is astonished by the proposals, saying : "This is a classic example of fatuous over-regulation. Its sole result will be to push up costs in the UK driving our orchards out of production because they are made uncompetitive.”

Douglas Chalmers, CLA Regional Director North adds: "All food has the opportunity to be handled, and therefore contaminated many times before it is eaten. Have you seen shoppers handling fruit in shops and supermarkets and then replacing it for someone else? The consumer has the responsibility to prepare food properly, and this should include the simple washing of fruit.”


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